Childhood Stress and Resilience

  • Andrew J. Barnes


Overwhelming experiences that are perceived as negative, unpredictable, and uncontrollable—stressors—threaten children’s cognitive and emotional development, behavior, health, and socialization. Chronically high exposure to such threats can lead to functional impairments and biological derangements, which depend in part upon developmental timing and individual differences in physiological responses. Buffers against stress, often called protective factors, include influences that are both within children themselves as well as external to them. The capacity to successfully develop even when faced by chronic adversity and stress—resilience—depends upon the incorporation of these protective factors into a child’s life over time. A number of preventive interventions aim to help build resilience among children and adolescents at high risk due to chronic stress. While some of the interventions operate at a large scale, others target individual children who already show signs of distress or poor functioning. All such programs promote protective factors to positively impact children’s biological, psychological, and social well-being. This chapter defines stress and reviews its effects, summarizes protective factors and their connections to resilient outcomes, and provides an overview of resilience-promoting interventions in children and adolescents.


Stress Allostasis Resilience Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) Psychosocial risk Protective factors Hypnosis Biofeedback Mindfulness Parenting 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of Minnesota Medical School, University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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